1 Feb 2010
How has 2010 been for you so far?
At the beginning of January, I anticipated lots of snow shovelling, going to a motorcycle show and paying off my Christmas gifts bills. Well, I did not shovel much snow; I went to the annual motorcycle show at the International Centre; and, I had post-Christmas gifts which I will tell you more about.
On January 12, 2010, a major earthquake (7.0 magnitude) in Haiti effected various areas, particularly in the capital city, Port-au-Prince. Images of Haiti after this ominous event spread very quickly around the world, giving many people a glimpse of the fragility of life in the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. We were saddened and shocked when we saw the injured, the dead, and great devastation to the city.1
Since January 12th, many people from around the world have expressed an outpouring of emotion and has acted very quickly to help the people of Haiti. In a Toronto Star article on January 24th, it was reported that Canadians have donated over $67 million so far, and that's not counting the $16 million which was raised during a telethon on January 22nd, which featured Canadian celebrities. The Canadian government had initially promised to match all donations to Canadian charitable organizations up to $50 million, but, the Prime Minister recently announced that that cap would be removed, given that donations by Canadians have well exceeded $50 million.2
When something like the major earthquake in Haiti strikes, it makes me (and perhaps all of you) wonder, how can I help? For many (including myself), it means donating cash to a reputable charitable organization who can make a contribution during an emergency relief situation. Some people may decide to donate or collect materials (which may include medical supplies/medicines, clothing, food, etc.) to ship to Haiti. There are also compassionate individuals who went to Haiti to offer their services. Potential parents in Canada and other countries tried to adopt Haitian orphans, in hopes of providing a better life for them.
I wondered what "perfect gifts" can we offer to the Haitian people who have lost family members and friends, their homes and businesses, or material possessions they may have had. Things can be replaced but there are gifts in life which we hope never to lose. One of those gifts is hope. You may lose your loved ones; you may lose your job; you may lose your worldly posessions; you may lose your health. People can carry on with life, with their heads held high because they have hope.
On Sunday, January 24th, I watched CTV News and the journalist participated in a Creole church service. In spite of the calamities around them, this group of Haitians were singing, dancing and praising God. All the people in their congregation survived the earthquake. They have not seen how the world has responded, in coming to their aid, except from what the journalist told them. The journalist said, people around the world care for them and are trying to help them. Their city has not been totally restored, so, it's not easy to see what or how much is being done or will be done, yet, they are "rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer."3 What we see weeks after the earthquake is Haitians who have hope, perseverance and faith and it is we, who have also received perfect gifts from them, as we see them continue on in life, which such great spirit.
At my workplace, a representative from the Canadian Red Cross, named Dennis Fair, was invited to come to provide information on what the Red Cross has been doing in Haiti. I have made several donations in the past (and also recently to Haiti earthquake relief) to the Canadian Red Cross. The Red Cross4 has existed for almost 150 years, oftentimes getting into nations whom others were not permitted to go. Since they are not affiliated to a particular nation or government, their neutral position has opened doors to help so many people in great need. If you would like to learn more about the Canadian Red Cross and/or make donations to Haiti, please visit their website at www.redcross.ca. Due to the overwhelming volume of online donations to the Canadian Red Cross, I experienced errors and was charged more than once. A woman (named Elaine) called on behalf of the Canadian Red Cross and was going to credit me back, however, I had already decided to not have it corrected and told her, I was going to leave it (which left her in a bit of shock - lol). So, if you made a similar error, you can call the Red Cross, or undoubtedly, someone will call you. Anyway, I mentioned to Elaine that we had someone from the Canadian Red Cross speak to us at work and I realized that work can continue on to help Haiti even after the emergency situation is over. Although they have received enough donations to deal with the "emergency", whatever funds they have left over will allow them to continue to help the people of Haiti until funds run out. Apparently, the overwhelming amount of donations to help the countries effected by the Tsunami Asian disaster in December, 2004 is still being used in some of those countries. If you live outside of Canada, there may be a local Red Cross to whom you can make a donation to, and have it directed to the Haiti earthquake fund.
If you live in Canada and wish to make donations to other organizations in order to help the people of Haiti, you can find a list of registered Canadian charities at the Government of Canada's website at www.cra-arc.gc.ca/whtsnw/tms/rthqk-haiti-eng.html.
When it comes to giving, I know all our brothers and sisters around the world are working hard to help people in Haiti. Those who have experienced blessings and are able to spare something, give. If our families have needs, I believe we should look after our own families first - without a doubt. How can we give to strangers and neglect our own families? Yet, how can we, who are blessed with abundance, not give? I think about the words of Jesus Christ noted in Christian Scripture, "... from everyone who has been given much, much will be required ...."5 Those words motivate me to take action and surprisingly, I have seen my gifts multiply and return back to me several fold. Many years ago, when I first experienced significant returns, I was very surprised! Whatever gifts were given, whether it was money, things or random acts of kindness, I would be blessed with returns several fold. I am not surprised anymore because it defies my rational thought. I would not be encouraging you to give, and to give a lot, and to give as often as you can, if I have not seen the benefits and want all of you to experience the same. I think we need to look beyond our own circle (home, church, work), and reach out to help others, because perfect giving means, we do not expect anything to return, will multiply, supernaturally. And, I want to reiterate and emphasize that "perfect gifts" are not necessarily in the form of money or other material things. You can offer your time, services, compassion, prayers and more.
In February, the Heart and Stroke Foundation will be canvassing for contributions, providing programs and information during their annual Heart Month campaign - choosing February because Valentine's Day is on February 14th. This year, Chinese New Year (Year of the Tiger) rolls around on February 14th. I think February is a month of focussing on heart matters and what matters to the heart. Whether it is taking care of our heart health, showing our loved ones how much we love them, or spending time celebrating the New Year with family, or giving generously to people who need our help, I hope you will join me and experience the important matters of the heart!
Those of you who are interested in predictions of the upcoming Chinese Year of the Tiger, check out the Year of the Tiger on KaTsZoNe at www.katszone.com/yearoftiger.html where you will find several links to other websites. For me, the Chinese horoscopes and predictions are simply for fun. It doesn't mean they will come true because there are probably as many differences in predictions and opinions as there are sand on a beach. The Chinese horoscopes are interesting and may be the topic of fun conversations. I find the descriptions of the 12 different animals in the Chinese zodiac, particularly personality types and the stories rather interesting, because it's part of my culture, and also, because I was a psychology major and by nature, I love to analyze people. I love to know what makes people tick! So, have fun reading about the Year of the Tiger and if you would like to share your views and stories, send me an email!
I have a couple of events lined up in February, including the Motley Crue concert at the ACC. I have also made plans to go for a dinner and a lunch during Winterlicious (which runs between January 31st and February 12). I have attended the Canadian Auto Show in the past few years, and that also takes place during February, but, given the problems with the auto industry these days, I am not certain if there will be a lot to see, so, those are just tentative plans for now.
Check out the KaTsZoNe calendar at www.katszone.com/page/page/6673173.htm and see if there is anything which might excite you -- not just in February, but, for the rest of the year! It is quite challenging for me to think ahead about what I may want to attend during the year. I am only adding events which I am interested in attending (even tentatively). And, I am not including ROCK CONCERTS or any other concerts which I may be attending!
Enjoy February and I'll be back in March for another great episode of KaTsZoNe!
Check out past episodes of KaTsZone at:
Calendar of Events on KaTsZoNe:
2 www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/755060--ottawa-ends-its-cap-on-donations-to-help-haiti (Jan. 24 2010)
3 "rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer" (Romans 12:12, New American Standard Bible)
4 www.redcross.int; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Red_Cross_and_Red_Crescent_Movement
5 "... From everyone who has been given much, much will be required ... " (Luke 12:48, New American Standard Bible)